Human rights and civil rights have long been buzz-words that catch the attention of listeners everywhere. Sometimes these frameworks are used interchangeably but in reality, they are two separate items that are implemented at two different levels. For clarity’s sake they are both used as a description of a type of right.
To better understand the similarities and differences between the two there must first be an understanding of what is right in basic terms. Rights are what is granted to an individual or group on the basis of meeting a qualification. They are to be universal and inalienable in nature. Meaning that they apply to everyone and are something that cannot be taken away from someone or even a system of government. In the example of human rights these are granted on the basis of someone simply being human. That because you are human you are entitled to these rights listed and no overarching system of power should be able to remove them from you.
As mentioned in the previous example, human rights are the items that are granted to all people for simply being human. Your human rights cannot be stripped of you by anyone as that would mean they would have violated your rights.
One of the more famous examples of human rights framework is that of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states in article 2 “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” Later in the articles, it lists rights applying to areas like religion, right to freedom from enslavement, right to an education and so on.
Though these are upheld by a United Nations doctrine it does not mean that all those listed are followed globally. In turn the differences between countries allow for various between them and civil rights to form.
For something to count as being civil, it means that it applies to the citizens of a certain country. This brings two things into the equation when talking about the application of civil rights.
First being that it is imposed by a government system and said system must uphold the rights it outlines. Once again following the rule that they must be universal and inalienable.
Second, that they apply universally to only the citizens of a country. Being that whether a person was born there or became one later in life, because they are a citizen, they have those endowed rights.
Common to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many countries have their own respective version of this known as a Bill of Rights. Some countries that have are France’s Declaration of the rights of Man and of the Citizen, Venezuela’s Declaration of the Rights of the People, and Brazil’s Article 5 of the Brazilian Constitution to name a few.
The United States in particular, the U.S. Bill of Rights list the rights that American citizens have like the popularly known freedoms of speech, press, religion, and assembly. All these are things that the government has endowed to each citizen and must respect because they cannot do anything that would hinder any of those rights listed, reinforcing the notion of them being inalienable.
Looking at the Bigger Picture
Though both rights have their respective differences in cases like the level in which they are upheld and who is protected by them, they still have their similarities. Like that of being universal and inalienable. These two clauses are what give them the political significance to be upheld.
Society also is able to benefit from their implementation as it not only can serve as protection from a government but also in maintaining a balance of power. Acting as a check and balance between groups. Rights on both the human and civil side are also reflected in the ever-changing nature of a society. As years pass and society changes, rights also could change as well.
On a personal note, I believe that it is important to know your rights. Education on something like this is always someone’s first line of self-defense against oppressive powers. Without knowledge of our human and civil rights it gives way for us as people to be pressured or even taken advantage of making it a significant piece of information to know.